My Block, My Hood, My City

Opening isolated youth to new experiences and opportunities that make a difference in their lives.

The Problem

Growing up in the economically disadvantaged parts of Chicago and other US cities, many young people never venture much beyond their own block. Many have never been downtown, seen a taxi, taken a ride in an elevator, or visited a glass building. Working with young as a volunteer in Chicago, Jahmal Cole would hear a lot of talk about "my block," and "my hood," as well as comments like, "You have to have money to go downtown" or "That’s for white people." While respecting the pride these young people took in their neighborhoods and communities, he saw that they were isolated -- not just from the wider world of experience but also from a sense of possibility outside their narrow experience, which too often featured poverty and violence.

The Solution

Cole founded My Block, My Hood, My City to provide underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and of opportunities beyond their neighborhood. The organization takes groups of young people on structured explorations around Chicago, discovering new communities and businesses, cultures and cuisines. The outings are focused around STEM, Arts & Culture, Citizenry & Volunteerism, Health, Community Development, Culinary Arts, and Entrepreneurism; and they are designed to instill values of interconnectivity, empathy, hope, and civic responsibility. The premise is that by stepping outside their comfort zone and soaking up new knowledge and experiences, young people will gain a greater understanding of the world and develop a larger sense of life's possibilities. Says Cole, "Our mission is to boost educational attainment in these students, build community, and inspire hope in spite of the poverty and isolation they face."

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

My Block, My Hood, My City

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